Bee Eaters & Hoopoes, Teresa May, AC Milan, Ferragosta, Celebrity Weddings, Certaldo Onions and the Earthquake
June Finnigan – English Writer & Rock Singer.Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers
If you are new to my column, you should know that each month I talk about the previous one and in this case August.
The month opened its doors to hot dry humid weather, made much more pleasant by the sound of Bee Eaters and Hoopoes swooping over our still fairly new home. Both gorgeous colourful birds.
August is the month when my man and I are both here for four or five weeks and we have great intentions of doing all sorts of things around the house and gardens. But, once again the time rushed by as we worked out of our separate studios doing business over Skype, or writing.
In the first week, the new British Prime Minister Teresa May paid a visit to meet our leader Matteo Renzi. Interesting that neither have been elected by the people and are stand-ins until the next general elections, so they have that in common. They talked about Brexit and many of our friends in the local café bar were reckoning that it won’t be long before we have an Itexit! One Italian journalist was more interested in pointing out that Teresa was wearing very unstylish flat, greyish shoes with a pointed toe. I understand that she is famed for her stylish shoes elsewhere in the world, so this was a little surprising!
Much more interesting were the visits of great musicians doing concerts and tours, and these included Jethro Tull in Cortona and Village People in Lucca. Meanwhile, the Italian music industry produced an Italian Designer boxset of U2’s hits. The music is exactly the same, just wrapped up in a shiny box with Italian written all over it.
Mid-month, and AC Milan was finally handed over by Silvio Berlusconi to the Chinese, who may change the name to AC Peking. Ha ha, only joking. But god knows what effect this will have on the fans and the players. I can visualise Chinese faces filling the stands and replacing some of the players. What do you think?
On the 15th the Italians celebrate Ferragosta, which is the official start of the summer holidays. They quite frankly go berserk as they pile into their cars and rush off to the seaside or the mountains to escape the inland heat. The main roads become clogged up and people start doing crazy things like taking to the opposite side of the dual carriageways and weaving in and out of the oncoming traffic! Back in the towns and villages, if they are not already closed by then, seventy percent of shops, restaurants and café bars are abandoned, leaving the tourists to wander around with nowhere to go.
Meanwhile, Tuscany traditionally hosts weddings throughout the summer and August had a good number of celebrity visitors for these. One such celebration was the marriage of the stunning model Minttu Virtanen, who had netted the Ferrari racing driver Kimi Raikkonen. Of course Tuscany is one of the most beautiful places in the world for tying the knot, as you probably know.
What next, oh yes, seasonal fruit and veg. August is the month for buying the wonderful Certaldo Red Onion at the Saturday morning Mercato. Sweet and delicious either chopped thinly with salads or cooked with bakes and roasts. There was also a glut of plums and peaches, so we ate lots of fresh fruit salad for breakfast. Meanwhile, the restaurants were serving up that fabulous soft squidgy cheese called Burrata and I enjoyed mine with wood grilled vegetables. Yummy.
Sadly, the month was to end with the terrible news of the earthquake, which was around 200 kilometres south of us. The tragedy left the whole country stunned again, most people knew someone who had lived there, was holidaying in the area or originated from there. Nearly three hundred people died and whole villages lost everything, including their churches. Tented villages are currently providing cover and assistance. The survivors will mostly be moved into hotels at the end of September before the cold weather sets in. Thank you to all you well-wishers who were worried about us. The earthquake did not affect us physically, but it was a wake-up call and we now have a disaster bag and first aid box just inside the front door.
But the Italians are a resilient race and whilst the disaster is not forgotten, everyday life continues, as continue it must.
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See you next month June x